How come bad things happen in the world? Rape, child abuse, tsunamis, hurricanes, war and disease. The news is filled with accounts of the hurt inflicted on oftentimes innocent people. Why does an all powerful and loving God allow this to happen? I have no doubt that most, if not all, of us have wondered about the problem of evil from time to time. Especially when the hurt hits close to home.
The Problem of Evil
If God is all powerful and all knowing, and really cares about us, surely he should be able to fix the evils in our world: the hurricanes and earthquakes; the diseases and famines; the tyrant who oppresses his people; and the drug industry that so disrupts society. If he has the ability to ‘fix it’ and yet does not, is he really all that loving? There are many people who use the evils in our world today as an excuse to reject the existence of a loving and caring god. And many others who, while not rejecting God, still question his motives and purposes; why does God allow all the hurts seen on the news or in my life.
The ‘Problem of Evil’, a topic that has occupied philosophers for ages. And it is one that has no easy answer, although many attempts are made. Some argue that God must allow evil if we are to truly have free will. Others will argue that suffering now can produce a long term benefit for our eternity. And others offer other alternatives that are just as unsatisfying to the person who is hurting or deeply concerned about the hurting that is going on all around us.
I Trust God
I do believe that God exists. And that he is omnipotent (all-powerful) and omniscient (all-knowing). And I believe that God is good, although not necessarily so when judged by human standards. I do believe that it is incorrect to overlay human concepts of morality onto our creator. He is, fortunately, not like us (can you imagine me as god). And his reasons and purposes are beyond our understanding. That God appears to be indifferent to the sufferings of mankind does not mean that he is, or that he is not at work in our world today.
For myself, I have no real answer to the problem of evil. But I choose to trust that God cares for me and that he is working through all the stuff that happens to me, whether I think it good or bad, to accomplish his purpose in my life (Romans 8:28). Living with an attitude of thankfulness does not make the problems go away. But it sure does affect my attitude and the way I view life.
God is At Work
While I am far from being a deist, I do believe that God has created a self sustaining world. A world where he is not actively pulling all the strings. Children are born with defects, not because God made them that way, but because of genetic or other issues. People die and suffer from hurricanes. Not because God is punishing a particular place, but because of the way our weather systems function. Could God change them? I believe so. But it is apparent he does not always, if ever.
Many would have us believe that God’s desire for me now is that I be happy, healthy and prosperous. But I do not believe that to be the case. I have come to accept that what happens to me here is of little real (eternal) consequence, other than in what God can work out in my life through it. And that what really matters is in the unseen, to us, but eternal kingdom that God is preparing us for. My prayer for myself, my family, and for others is not that life would be dandy. Rather that God would be glorified in us and in our response to what happens to us. And also that he would use the events and circumstances of my life to prepare me for whatever purpose he has awaiting me.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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This post was originally published on October 27, 2011